(October 31, 2012, Massachusetts) New legislation has passed to protect pets whose owners are victims of domestic violence, and who have received a protective order.
Changes made to the General Laws (Section 50 of Chapter 209, Section 11) includes pets in harassment orders filed by their owners, “The court may order the defendant to refrain from abusing, threatening, taking, interfering with, transferring, encumbering, concealing, harming or otherwise disposing of such animal…If the court makes a finding that such an imminent threat of bodily injury to a person or domesticated animal exists, the court shall notify the appropriate law enforcement officials of such finding and the law enforcement officials shall take all necessary actions to execute any such outstanding warrant as soon as is practicable.” MA Session Law 2012
Violence against pets is common in relationships involving domestic abuse. 70% of domestic violence victims report an abusive partner threatened to hurt or to kill a pet.
Other victims may not leave the abuse because they are afraid of what will happen to a pet if they go. Pets are usually not accepted into domestic violence shelters, though there are some animal shelters that can help. Another problem — and this happened to me — is that if you can not return home, and have to find somewhere else to live, that place may not take pets, and you could be forced to give up a loved animal.
The Massachusetts law has been credited with saving the life of many animals. If you would like to protect animals from domestic violence, and offer reassurance to DV victims who are faced with the difficult choice of how to protects pet from abuse, please contact your state officials to urge them to extend laws, like the one offered in Massachusetts, to protect animals.
On a Personal Note…
My pet disappeared, at the hands of my abusive ex, after I escaped an abusive relationship, and I believe he is dead.
Mr. X threatened to harm my pet as a way to intimidate me, and specifically threatened “I will get rid of him” and “I will take him to the shelter and have him put to sleep“.
It took months to search all of the shelters in my city. A friend found an animal matching the description of my pet brought to the shelter just days after I fled my home, and the animal was gassed to death.
My pet was a healthy animal. He loved the children but feared my abuser. He was absolutely beautiful. And gentle. My daughter would play with him, and try to dress him up. My son would scoot under the furniture to pet him, and fall asleep with his face tucked into the soft fur of my pet’s neck. I miss my pet dearly.
My daughter was just a toddler when she fled the home and does not have many memories of that time but somehow she has locked onto a memory of our pet. She carries a stuffed animal around, named after the pet. Even as she is growing into a young teen, my daughter has not forgotten… and cuddles the stuffed animal as she sleeps.
I am thankful for the new pet I have, she has truly been a source of comfort.
❤ x ❤ x ❤